Serb gov’t happy with EBRD stake in Komercijalna Banka

BELGRADE (Reuters) – The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is close to acquiring up to 25 percent of Serbia’s third-biggest bank, Komercijalna Banka, by the end of March, Serb officials said yesterday. Finance Minister Mladjan Dinkic said that talks were in the final stage on a capital increase through which the EBRD would acquire the stake, but he would not specify a price. Komercijalna’s capital stood at 73 million euros in late 2005. «If we were to sell the entire bank, I would say its market value right now would be around 400 million euros,» Dinkic told reporters. «With the help of the EBRD, we expect its market value to grow to 1 billion euros.» The EBRD is also expected to give Komercijalna 30 million euros of credit to expand its mortgage business and another credit line to finance small and medium-sized enterprises. The government wants to control at least two banks, which would act as agents for the cheap financing of agriculture, housing or other sectors the state may choose to subsidize. Over the past month, the state raised its share in Komercijalna to 67.6 percent from 54 percent. Dinkic said the government wanted to keep control of what it sees as «a prosperous bank, which can become a Serbian banking giant.»

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